It was a very ordinary day. At least I think I remember it being ordinary. It was late spring, perhaps early spring; truthfully, I remember little about that morning or how it began or what the weather was like. Until last week, I had buried every single second of that day–buried it so deep that I never even stumbled over it in 44 years. And but for a private message on Facebook, it might have remained buried.
Junior High was a time of much ‘loveU4ever,’ going steady and unrequited crushes evidenced by Pee Chees tattooed with ‘Mrs. ?’ written over and over again with the question mark representing one of the countless hunks in our ninth grade class. It had been a year or so since my first French kiss and there may have been others but those memories have now faded. My father, a police officer, lectured my sister and me about dirty old men like my uncle who married one of my father’s younger sisters and I was warned never to sit on his lap and I didn’t. My sixth grade science teacher was arrested for incest. He scared most of us girls. The lights would be turned off for a science movie and he’d invite this one particular girl to the back to help him run the projector. I was too afraid to look but I always felt he was a very bad man. My sixth grade gym teacher was an ex-Marine and wore his hair short and tight with a bizarre curl of his ‘bangs’ and his elbows ‘accidentally’ brushed my bra-less budding breasts and I learned to duck and avoid until one time in seventh grade, when he was teaching at another school, he found me in the public swimming pool and lowered his hand to a place that I knew was no accident. I swam so fast, got out of the pool and felt lucky. I didn’t tell my parents because … had I done something wrong? It felt wrong and that is all I knew–that and to never let him near me again.
We were also warned never to go into a boy’s house unless his parents were home. But I wasn’t afraid of the boys in my class. They were young and they weren’t frightening. I remember a girlfriend from my 8th grade class asking if I would go with her to a singing group that met in the early evenings a few times a week and sang at the malls and such during the weekend. She had a crush on one of the members. Sure, why not? That’s what friends do. The group was fairly large and there were so many cute boys. She and I joined around the end of our 8th grade year but then she stopped liking the boy and eventually got tired of going and that was the end of that for her. I remember the last meeting I went to. I was in 9th grade and there was a tragedy involving another friend. My dad sent someone to pick me up and I never returned. Many of the older members had gone onto high school and several had left to travel with the national singing group. One of those that left was so handsome. I was sure he liked me for awhile until I heard several of the older girls talking about hooking up with him. He never tried to even hold my hand. I stopped writing his name on my Pee Chee.
Then that very ordinary day happened. That same girlfriend that got me to join the group found me just before lunch. She was out of breath and I remember thinking something wonderful had happened. She blurted out that the young man I had the crush on was back from the national tour and was staying at his aunt’s house two blocks from our junior high. He wanted to see me or at least I think that is what she said–maybe I just wanted to hear that. I left campus during the lunch hour–something I had never done and would have been grounded forever plus one day had my parents found out–but it was just for an hour.
Everything I remember about that day was ordinary. His aunt’s house was an ordinary red brick house with an ordinary white door. I had practiced what I would say to his aunt but when I rang the bell, he answered the door. He didn’t look the same. His hair was longer and he had facial hair and it was real–not like the silky strands on the lips and chins of the boys in my class. His sideburns were long and curly and coarse. They came to a blunt cut and were wider at the bottom. His face had stubbles like he hadn’t shaved recently. Shaved? Only those boys in my class who had been held back shaved or maybe some did but not daily. He invited me in and I went without hesitation. He headed down the stairs into the basement and I followed. It was a finished basement but not decorated. He said his aunt was at work and that we were alone. I remember an old couch and the room didn’t have much light. It felt cave-like. I remember I was wearing a corduroy skirt–most certainly knee socks but I don’t remember them. Girls weren’t allowed to wear pants or jeans–they violated the dress code. He was wearing blue jeans and had a plastic cup of ice tea. I remember when he handed me the tumbler, it was sweating. I turned to place it on the end table which was an old TV tray. It took me a second or two because there was a lip on the side of the tray and the cup almost tipped over. I felt his weight on the couch as he sat next to me. I turned as he placed his hand on my neck. I knew as sure as I knew my name that he was going to kiss me. I was ready.
There was no kiss. He grabbed the back of my neck and with force started pushing me towards his lap. He had his pants wrapped around his ankles and I was looking at a purple grotesque erection surrounded by a mound of pubic hair. I pushed back and I remember screaming at him. Stop!….No!….I remember struggling. I turned my head as it slid across my cheek into my hair. I was thrashing using both hands trying to stand–to break free and then my face felt wet and white globs of semen sprayed my face and fell onto my arm. He squeezed the back of my neck and one breast and then shoved me–hard. I slipped off the couch and hit my head on the coffee table. I was sprawled between the old red and brown couch and table and I remember looking down at the filthy floor and I tried standing. I remember crying and looking at him. And I remember he looked at me and laughed. He told me to get up and get out. As I was fumbling with my clothes he started shouting at me.
What did you think we were going to do–make out? That is for babies! Come back when you are a woman.
I remember those words as if he spoke them to me yesterday. I headed up the basement stairs and he didn’t even bother to follow me. When I opened the front door the light blinded me but I was safe. I pushed back my hair and it was sticky and my arm and hands were dirty as well from rolling on the floor of hell. There was a garden hose next to the front stoop. I turned it on and washed my hands, arms and hair. Looking like a wet rat, I returned to school. I know I went home that day and it had to have been by school bus. But I have no memory of anything after I washed myself off with his aunt’s garden hose. It is a black empty space in my brain’s memory banks. I never told a soul. Not a girlfriend, not a boyfriend, not my parents, not my husband. I have vivid memories of another attempted sexual assault in college in the dorm, but every detail is crisp and sharp. I talked about it many times. Not this time. Not this place. I never saw him again–that I most certainly remember. Until….
Facebook, private messenger, last week. It seems he is a ‘friend of a friend’—in fact of three friends that I have friended over the years from a class two years ahead of mine. They aren’t close friends and I doubt we have written to each other more than two posts in five years. I haven’t seen their status updates in forever—years—literally, years. Yet, they are there and have access to my photos, to my ‘throw back Thursday” pictures of junior high, to my family, to my memories. And because he is a friend of theirs, he has access. Oh, I thought I had all the bells and whistles and protection Facebook offers to those of us that want to make sure that unknown creeps can’t find us. Being a writer exposes my personal information but I still believed that somehow I was protected. He had stopped by to invite me to a reunion of the singing group–“bring photos–we’ll share memories.”
And then the memories of that lunch hour came rushing in and I couldn’t stop them this time. My husband and I were watching television and I was Facebooking on my iPad and tears dripped down my face as every ugly moment whorled and twisted in my head. Closing my eyes didn’t shut off the memories. Not this time. I turned and told my husband I had something to share–an awful ordinary day. I am able to speak about it now–the parts that I remember. It helps to desensitize the shame that I felt for a brief moment–stupidity shame. Stupid went into that house. Stupid let him find me on Facebook. He is wrinkly, bald and ugly–much like his penis decades ago and I laugh when I think of that comparison. Laughter flushes the dirty feelings from my brain.
You must determine what Facebook does for you and how much you know about your friends’ friends. I am not the Facebook police–just a stranger with a story about sexual assault, Facebook and some privacy issues.